In a television interview with CBS’s flagship program “60 Minutes” on Sunday night, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi praised the intimate security cooperation with Israel in the Sinai Peninsula against jihadist forces, The Jerusalem Post reported.
When the interviewer asked Sisi whether the cooperation was the “deepest and closest” that Egypt has had with Israel, the president responded: “That is correct.” He explained that “the air force must sometimes move to the Israeli side, so we have broad coordination with Israel.”
Israel and Egypt have been at peace since 1979 and in recent years have built a close cooperative relationship. Their cooperation is motivated not only by Israel’s desire to bolster relations with Arab states in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, but also by Islamic State’s presence in the Sinai Peninsula and, more broadly, shared hostility to an increasingly aggressive and regionally influential Iran.
Israel’s deepening ties with Egypt are not an isolated development but rather part of a broader rapprochement with a group of pragmatic Sunni Arab states, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States.
In related news, Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said the Jewish State is expected to approve the multibillion-dollar Red Sea-Dead Sea Project with Jordan, which will yield desalinated water and hydroelectric power, and help replenish the evaporating Dead Sea.
“This is the largest joint project in the Middle East between Israel and an Arab state,” the minister told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. “Jordan has severe water issues and Israel wants to maintain Jordan’s stability.”
The Red Sea-Dead Sea Project, an idea conceived in the early 2000s, envisions a pipeline connecting the Red Sea port of Aqaba to an area by the south-eastern coast of the Dead Sea, both within Jordanian territory. Palestinians would be able to buy desalinated water from the Jordanians.
“This is important for regional cooperation,” Hanegbi added. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convinced that peace has a price, and he agreed to it.” Israel and Jordan will each pledge $40 million a year for 25 years, a total of $2 billion for the project, according to Bloomberg.
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